PATIENTS' RIGHTS COMPROMISE.
The House approved a bipartisan patients' rights bill (H.R.
2563) containing compromise language that may guarantee a signature from
President Bush. In an agreement between the White House and one of the
bill's sponsors, Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-Ga.), patients can sue
federally governed managed care plans in state or federal court for
unlimited economic damages, but damages for pain and suffering are
limited to $1.5 million. Punitive damages can't be collected unless
the patient can prove denial of care through an outside appeals board.
The American Psychiatric Association said it supports the Senate-passed
bill (S. 1052), which confers a much broader right to sue health plans
in state court, and looks for the conference committee to produce the
most comprehensive patients' rights bill.